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Paisley Abbey, Drain

Drain (Period Unassigned), Wall (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Paisley Abbey, Drain

Classification Drain (Period Unassigned), Wall (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 71769

Site Number NS46SE 2.05

NGR NS 4849 6388

NGR Description NS 4849 6388 to NO 4858 6388

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Renfrewshire
  • Parish Paisley (Renfrew)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Renfrew
  • Former County Renfrewshire

Archaeology Notes

NS46SE 2.05 4849 6388 to 4858 6388

NS 4849 6388 An archaeological watching brief was carried out while test cores were taken as part of a structural survey of the sewer. Six cores were taken, four through the walls and two through the floor of the medieval sewer. The cores were drilled through typical stones within the masonry. Cores were taken from the different styles of building construction along the length of the sewer.

The two cores through the floor went into clay below the floor slab. The full depth was not required so archaeological disturbance was kept to a minimum.

Sponsor: Gavin Walker & Associates for Paisley Museum.

B Will 1996.

Scheduled as 'Paisley Abbey, drain 75m SSW of... a large and impressive stone drain, constructed to carry waste water through the precinct of Paisley Abbey'.

[Extent of Scheduled area indicated on map attached to document].

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 9 August 2010.

Architecture Notes

This site has only been partially upgraded for SCRAN. For full details, please consult the Architecture Catalogues for Renfrew District.

February 1998


Excavation (3 September 2009 - 16 September 2009)

NS 4849 6388 A limited excavation was carried out 3–16 September 2009 on the site of a major medieval drain at Paisley Abbey. Previous work had focused on the inside of the drain and this was the first excavation of the deposits surrounding the drain. Although deep demolition layers and recent levelling deposits were recorded over most of the trench there were areas of undisturbed archaeological deposits, especially in the deeper sections.

The remains of a masonry wall and stone foundation uncovered to the NW of the trench may be contemporary with the drain and could therefore be part of the monastic precinct. Part of the top of the roof and N exterior wall of the drain were also exposed. The presence of two distinct sections of stonework suggests that the drain may have been built in two phases or had possibly been repaired, and previous investigations in the drain have recorded different phases of building. In addition to the medieval structures and deposits more recent structures and walls from the buildings and tenements that occupied the site in the 19th and early 20th

centuries were also recorded.

Volunteers from the Renfrew Local History Forum took part in the excavation.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended). Report: RCAHMS and WoSAS SMR

Funder: Renfrewshire Council and Renfrew Local History Forum.

Robert Will – GUARD

Excavation (2 September 2011 - 12 September 2011)

NS 4849 6388 A limited excavation was carried out 2–12 September 2011 on the site of a major medieval drain at Paisley Abbey. This work followed on from previous work in 2009 and 2010 to investigate the construction of the drain and the deposits surrounding it. Although deep demolition layers and recent levelling deposits were recorded in both trenches, there were areas of undisturbed archaeological deposits.

The remains of the foundations of a substantial stone wall and associated cobbled surface were uncovered in Trench 1, built over the drain. A stone-built structure, possibly an oven or kiln, was uncovered in Trench 2, and both features could be part of the monastic precinct. In addition to the possible medieval structures, more recent deposits relating the buildings and tenements that occupied the site in the 19th and early 20th centuries were also recorded. The project was run in collaboration with Historic Scotland, Renfrewshire Local History Forum, Renfrewshire Council and Paisley Museum.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended). Report: RCAHMS and WoSAS

Funder: Renfrewshire Council: Paisley N and S local area committees

GUARD Archaeology Ltd, 2011

Geophysical Survey (4 September 2013)

NS 4849 6388 A GPR survey was undertaken on 4 September 2012 to explore the direction of the medieval drain and the possible presence of other structures related to the abbey. The survey covered a 24 x 34m area, in a small park close to the White Cart Water, to the S of the abbey. The disturbed topsoil resulting from the demolition of 19th-century tenements and other levelling and landscaping works produced complex results. The higher conductivity of these deposits and the rubble matrix of the topsoil resulted in limited penetration by the electromagnetic signal. Nevertheless, some coherent responses from near-surface reflectors (c1m) were recorded, probably relating to the foundation remains of 19th-century tenements. Of greater interest was the detection of what appears to be a 20m segment of the E–W course of the drain, starting at a depth of c0.5m and developing westwards at 0.8m deep.

Archive: The Renfrewshire Local History Forum

Funder: The Renfrewshire Local History Forum

Richard Jones and Carmen Cuenca-Garcia, University of Glasgow, 2013

(Source: DES)

Trial Trench (31 August 2015 - 7 September 2015)

Limited archaeological trial trenching was carried out by GUARD Archaeology and volunteers from the Renfrewshire Local History Forum in September 2015 to the west of Paisley Abbey in Paisley. This excavation followed on from a similar small scale excavations between 2009 and 2011 to investigate whether buildings associated with Paisley Abbey and the drain survive within surrounding area. Three trial trenches were excavated to the west of the Abbey and uncovered deep demolition layers and recent levelling deposits along with stone and brick foundations from buildings that occupied the site in the nineteenth century and were later demolished and the area landscaped.

Although no definitive medieval structures were uncovered a large number of medieval roof tiles were recovered from the lower deposits in two of the trenches which provide information on what the medieval buildings would have looked like. The survival of late medieval deposits suggest that there is the possibility that medieval buildings or foundations may survive in the area.

Infromation from GUARD Archaeology Ltd.

Excavation (18 September 2017 - 23 September 2017)

NS 4849 6388 Limited archaeological investigations were

carried out, 18–23 September 2017, in the area immediately

surrounding the medieval drain at Paisley Abbey. Although

the foundations of tenement buildings, demolition material

and recent levelling deposits were identified in the two

trial trenches, there were areas of potentially undisturbed

archaeological deposits. In addition to the trial trenching,

geophysical survey was undertaken in the area to the W of

the drain. During the investigation, schools, local groups

and visitors were able to take part in workshops within the

abbey, take part in the dig and attend lunchtime talks about

the project in the abbey. Overall almost 1000 people engaged

with the project over the course of the week.

Archive: NRHE (intended). Report: NRHE and WoSAS

Funder: Renfrewshire Council, HLF and Renfrewshire Local

History Forum

Bob Will – GUARD Archaeology Ltd

(Source: DES, Volume 19)


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